Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

The King of Beer’s World Cup Strategy

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You‘re the largest beer company in the world, and have the marketing rights to the world’s most popular event.  What do you do?  You activate on a scale not seen since Gen. George C. Marshall was the United States Army’s, Chief of Staff.

A-B InBev is launching multiple offensives for Budweiser’s 2010 FIFA World Cup sponsorship.  They have effectively turned a 30 day tournament into a four-month global marketing blitz.  Roger Goodell and the NFL could not have done any better. 

A-B InBev Chief Marketing Officer Chris Burggraeve said the campaign is “about uniting beer drinkers around the world and celebrating the game of football.”  To do so, the campaign includes grassroots, digital, and interactive components.  A-B InBev will be activating in every hemisphere of the world. 

Budweiser launched its marketing blitz in March: the soccer-style Budweiser United crest was unveiled, the six-on-six grassroots soccer tournament “Budweiser Cup” began, and the Budweiser Man of the Match Sweepstakes was announced. 

The Budweiser Cup is a 12-country tournament, and the finals will be played on July 1st in a FIFA World Cup stadium.  The United States tournament is being played in 16 California cities, and is heavily marketed to Hispanics under the name “La Copa Budweiser”.  The tournament is supported with print, radio, out-of-home, and television advertisements.  La Copa Budweiser enabled Budweiser to secure product displays in Hispanic supermarkets during the month of March.  According to a Budweiser representative, the displays accounted for an additional 3,000 cases of Budweiser being sold in San Diego during the month of March.  La Copa Budweiser also served as a cause marketing platform, the brand donated $16,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund of California.  Budweiser will maintain its display space in the Hispanic supermarkets through the duration of the World Cup (that’s an extra 12,000 cases of “Big Red” being sold to Hispanics in San Diego from March-July). The displays  will promote the Budweiser Man of the Match after La Copa Budweiser.   

 Logos of Budweiser United, Hispanic Scholarship, and MLS on the backdrop.

Photo taken at the San Diego tournament, and no, I am not in the picture.

The Budweiser Man of the Match Sweepstakes is a soccer fan’s Make a Wish Foundation.  Sweepstakes winners – 10 from the United States – receive an all-expenses paid trip to the World Cup, and the right to present the Budweiser Man of the Match award on the pitch following a World Cup match.  The sweepstakes drove traffic to Budweiser’s Web site from March 1st – May 1st , and increased awareness of Budweiser’s FIFA sponsorship in the months leading up to the World Cup (especially at points-of-sale).  Budweiser’s “March to May” marketing strategy is driving awareness of its sponsorship prior to the tournament.  The increased awareness of its sponsorship will maximize the efficiency of the brand’s interactive World Cup initiatives.

Bud House is Jersey Shore meets Survivor, except the house mates fist pump to goals instead of DJ Pauly’s party mix.  Bud House will have one house mate from each of the 32 countries participating in the World Cup, 16 males and 16 females.  The house mates bunking accommodations will be based on World Cup matches e.g., house mates from the US, England, Slovenia, and Algeria will share a room.  House mates will be kicked out as their team is eliminated, until the World Cup Final.  Then, the two remaining house mates will attend the championship match, with the winner presenting the Budweiser Man of the Match award to the Finals MVP.  Budweiser will upload 6-8 Bud House webisodes per day, and there are plans to stream live video from the house.  

Bud House is a great idea.  It is a format which Millennials (Budweiser’s target demo is males 21-35) are comfortable with, and the brevity (3-5 minutes) of the webisodes will appeal to them.  Bud House’s success is contingent upon Budweiser’s ability to create captivating stories out of the house mates interactions.  As much as I like  Bud House, the true interactive/groundbreaking component of Budweiser’s marketing strategy is the Budweiser Man of the Match voting.

Fans will determine the Budweiser Man of the Match online.  Think about that for a second…  A FIFA award will be determined by the fans, via an online poll, and be presented by Budweiser consumers.  

Budweiser Man of the Match voting is an example of a brand capitalizing  on the dynamic way in which fans are consuming sports.  Hundreds of millions of fans will have the opportunity to literally touch the Budweiser brand during World Cup action. Fans will be tweeting, posting, and looking up statistics during the matches (from laptops and smart phones), and now they will be interacting with the Budweiser brand.  Furthermore, think if they incorporated Facebook Connect into the voting. How many more millions of consumers would its FIFA sponsorship reach if every time someone casted a vote it posted to their profile? 

Now only if Budweiser would create a World Cup specific app, or partner with a supermarket chain on a Foursquare promotion during the World Cup.

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